Is Regulation 225 A Union-Busting Measure? Know When You Are Being Used!

Ever since Regulation 225 hit the Delaware Registrar of Regulations, I’ve been scratching my head over it. I’ve gone back and forth on it a few dozen times. To be crystal clear, I support any anti-discrimination measure for ANY student. No questions asked. Some of the Facebook comments I’ve seen from some who oppose the bill are filled with hate and misunderstanding. I’ve wondered what the purpose behind all this was, and today I may have received an answer. Continue reading

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Parent, Education, and Privacy Groups Oppose Overturning The Ban On A Federal Student Database

Leonie Haimson, the co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, allowed me to share a press release issued by today by the following groups: Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, American Civil Liberties Union, Network for Public Education and NPE Action, Parents Across America, Badass Teachers Association, and New York State Allies for Public Education.

This morning a letter was sent to the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking from parent groups, education advocates, and privacy experts, urging them against proposing that the ban on a centralized federal database of student personal data be overturned. 

Recently, several DC-based groups testified before the Commission, urging that this ban be lifted, which was established by Congress as part of the Higher Education Act in 2008.  The Gates Foundation has also announced that the creation of a centralized federal database to track students from preK through college, the workforce and beyond is one of their top advocacy priorities for 2017.

In the letter, parent, privacy and education organizations warned that eliminating this ban would risk that highly sensitive information would breached, as has occurred with sensitive data held by many federal agencies in recent years.  A hack into the Office of Personal Management released personnel records of about 22.1 million individuals. More recently, an audit of the US Department of Education found serious security flaws in their data systems, and a government security scorecard awarded the agency an overall grade of D.

Moreover, K-12 student data currently collected by states that would potentially be incorporated in the federal database often include upwards of 700 specific personal data elements, including students’ immigrant status, disabilities, disciplinary records, and homelessness. Data collected ostensibly for the sole purpose of research would likely be merged with other federal agency data and could include information from their census, military service, tax returns, criminal and health records.

Said Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, whose members led the fight against inBloom, designed to capture and share the personal student data of nine states and districts, “A centralized federal database containing the personal data of every public-school student would pose an even greater risk to individual privacy than inBloom.  It would allow the government to create dossiers on nearly every United States resident over time, and if breached or abused would cause immeasurable damage.”

As privacy advocates in England recently discovered, the personal information in a similar national student database that the government promised would be used only for research purposes has been secretly requested by the police and by the Home Office, in part to identify and locate undocumented children and their families.

“Our disastrous data privacy situation here in England should serve to warn Americans of the grave dangers of this sort of comprehensive student surveillance and database. The personal confidential information in our National Pupil Database was supposed to be used only for research, but we found out recently that data on thousands of students and their families has been secretly requested by the police and for the purposes of immigration control in just the last 15 months. It would be unwise and irresponsible for the United States to create a similar database, which can so easily be used for political purposes which are not in all children’s best interests,” said Jen Persson, coordinator of defenddigitalme, a privacy and digital rights group in the UK.

Chad Marlow, Advocacy& Policy Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “Improving educational opportunities for children and protecting student privacy are not mutually exclusive goals.  In fact, it is our responsibility as parents, educators, and Americans to doggedly pursue both objectives.  Creating any type of centralized database for personally identifiable student data would pose real and significant risks to the privacy of America’s students, and that is why such databases have consistently been rejected in the past.  With education policy, as with privacy, ‘do no harm’ is a reasonable place to start, and here, doing no harm clearly requires rejecting any attempts to establish a universal database that compiles and tracks students’ most sensitive information.”

Diane Ravitch, President of the Network for Public Education and NPE Action pointed out, “Whether Democrat or Republican, the one thing parents agree on is the importance of their child’s privacy. To allow the federal government to collect personal and sensitive data on every public-school student in the nation risks that this information would be misused by the government and corporations. “

“Parents Across America opposes any effort to establish a national student record system. Ever since the federal government weakened protections for student privacy, parents have been in a crisis mode. Our children are exposed every school day to a growing mish-mash of screen devices and online programs that capture mountains of their data. We know that the threat to privacy will only get worse if there’s a national record system; education profiteers will line up to tap into an even more convenient source of private student information. But we are determined not to let that happen to our children’s data,” said Julie Woestehoff, Interim Executive Director of Parents Across America.

Lisa Rudley, Executive Director of the NY State Allies for Public Education, observed, “Data collection and sharing of our children’s personally identifiable information should require a parent’s informed consent. Just because the technology of data mining is here, it doesn’t mean children’s privacy rights should be sacrificed.”

“Our children and their families deserve protection of their data.  More importantly, we must understand that protecting our children relies upon protecting their personal information from breach or abuse,” concluded Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director of the Badass Teachers Association.

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking is accepting public comment on this matter until December 14, 2016. For more information, visit the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy website here: http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/federaldatasystem/

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I certainly hope the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association add similar public comments to this massive plan of Bill Gates…

The Aspen Institute: The Futurists Who Turned Education Into A Corporate Game

Where are decisions made that affect every single person in America, as well as the rest of the world?  The Aspen Institute seems like a good place to look.

I first came across the Aspen Institute when I was researching the Rodel Foundation of Delaware two years ago.  It seemed like an odd outfit.  Since then I have written about them many times.

I urge readers to see which power brokers are in this élite club from their states.  Many influential current and former Delawareans are in this group based out of Aspen, Colorado.  People like Jack Markell, Mark Murphy, Paul Herdman, Lillian Lowery, Bryon Short, William Budinger, Lincoln Willis, Tom Kovach, Chris Coons, Collin O’Mara, Portia Yarborough, and Leo Strine.

The Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship is a who’s who of corporate education reformers.  The Rodel Fellows (yes, that Rodel), covers public leaders.  The Henry Crown Fellows is for “community-minded leadership”.  They have many other fellowships in this billionaire, political power players, and ed reform conclave.

The Aspen Institute is all in on the cradle to grave workforce of tomorrow.  They created the Ascend Network to which focuses on early childhood education, economic supports,  health, postsecondary/adult education, social capital, and the workforce.  With  funding from many philanthropic foundations, this is just another example of how the Aspen Institute is reshaping society.

One of their more recent articles focuses on the “Gig Economy”, which coincides with the Blockchain Initiative.  This has some very frightening ideas they think the next President and Congress should take up next year.

For conspiracy theorists, they often wonder if there are secret groups out there that decide what happens in the future.  This group isn’t so secret and thanks to the internet, we can see exactly who they are, what they have done, and what is in the planning stages.  We can also see who funds them:

aspeninstitute

All these foundations, creating the future.  The Aspen Institute, an invitation only select club where futurists go to play.  A tangled web of money and power, hitting every aspect of children and their future.  There are other groups like this out there, but this seems to be the one the biggest names in corporate education reform like to go and play.  I am very certain there are good things that come out of a group like this, especially those dealing with poverty and health.  But the price is decisions going on behind closed doors with big money backing all of it.  The rich always think they know what is best for those below them.  But history tells us otherwise.

JP Morgan Chase Teams Up With CCSSO For Corporate Race To The Top

JP Morgan Chase will be giving away $75 million in grants over the next five years to different states in their “New Skills For Youth” program.  The goal is to implement career readiness programs in order to have more students ready to enter the workforce.  This is all part of the original design, detailed in a letter to Hillary Clinton 24 years ago.

What is interesting is who is on the advisory committee JP Morgan Chase used for this initiative.  We have the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, and the Education Strategy Group.  The CCSSO was instrumental in launching Common Core on unsuspecting states.  But the last of these groups is very interesting given one of their recent hires this year.

Remember Ryan Reyna?  This former Delaware Department of Education employee was the Director of the Accountability unit under Penny Schwinn.  Schwinn and Reyna were the dynamic duo in charge of creating Delaware’s new accountability system.  You know, the one with the participation rate penalty that would punish schools for opt outs over 5% of the school or any sub-group.

From their bio for Ryan Reyna:

Ryan joined ESG in 2016 to support ESG’s overall college and career readiness strategy.  He leads the organization’s efforts to help states bring stronger, more impactful career-focused indicators into their K-12 accountability systems to ensure that those systems measure and value students’ readiness for the 21st century world of work.

What I didn’t know about Reyna was that before he came to the Delaware DOE, he worked at the National Governor’s Association in their Center for Best Practices.  And take a wild guess what he did there?

At the NGA Center, Ryan led the division’s support of governors’ offices on numerous issues, including college and career ready standards, assessment, accountability, and transitions into postsecondary education and training. He also previously held Senior Policy Analyst and Policy Analyst positions at the NGA Center and worked as a Research Associate at the Data Quality Campaign.

Even Education Strategy Group’s Founder and President has some deep ties to corporate education reform.  Matt Gandal worked as a Senior Advisor to former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and prior to that he was an executive vice-president at Achieve Inc.  Gandal was one of the key players in the American Diploma Project which led to the creation of the Common Core State Standards.  From his bio with Education Strategy Group:

He helped found the organization and was responsible for overseeing its major initiatives, including the American Diploma Project which helped 35 states advance college and career readiness policies; the Common Core State Standards Initiative which resulted in 45 states adopting rigorous academic standards; and National Education Summits that brought together governors, CEOs and education leaders from across the country to commit to ambitious reforms.

Both he and Delaware Governor Jack Markell took part in a “Colloquim” run by the Hope Street Group in January, 2013.  One of the main goals of this gathering of corporate education reformers was, you guessed it, career pathways.  If you aren’t familiar with the Hope Street Group, former Delaware Deputy Secretary of Education Dan Cruce is an executive Vice-President there.  He served under Lillian Lowery when she held the role for a few years when Jack Markell became Governor of Delaware.

For the states who submitted applications for this grant from JP Morgan Chase, the selection committee included the following: IBM, Southern Regional Education Board, CLASP, James Irvine Foundation, Jobs For The Future, New America, National Governor’s Association, US Chamber and Chamber Foundation, National Skills Coalition, the Aspen Foundation, a high school principal, and a former Kentucky Commissioner of Education.  Look at their bios.  Follow the trail of breadcrumbs from one corporate education reform company to the next.

It was only a matter of time before financial institutions got involved in these “pathways to prosperity”.  In a letter to the editor that appeared in USA Today back in January, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman Hrabowski stated:

Awarding grants to U.S. states will encourage them to implement career and technical education programs that correspond to the needs of area employers. High-quality, rigorous career technical programs would arm students with the skills to work as aviation mechanics, nursing technicians or IT specialists. The result is great jobs.

And so begins the Corporate Race To The Top.  But I doubt JP Morgan Chase will be the only company doing this.  Yesterday, Bank of America’s lead for corporate communications, none other than Tony Allen himself, had a very interesting tweet:

So I’m sure we can expect more of this from Bank of America and other big banking corporations out there.  It seems like many states are jumping on this Career-Technical Education bandwagon.

Read the “Dear Hillary” letter if you haven’t already.  This was planned a quarter of a century ago.  This isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing.  It is a Corporate thing.  Designed for the vast majority of society to be given a pre-determined career path based on standardized test scores.  To keep the bulk of the population in low-paying jobs while the top 1-5% keep the control.  Think about it, if students are “guided” toward certain career trajectories, they will most likely serve that job for the rest of their life.  Everyone will have their designated role in life while the fat cats reap the profits. 

We hear big companies talking all the time about the cost of training employees.  By getting rid of that and having public education do all the training, guess who pays for it?  The taxpayers.  While the big companies score even more profit.  Do you really think they are doing this to help disadvantaged students?  These are some of the same companies that caused the housing collapse and the worst recession this country has ever seen.  That wasn’t even ten years ago folks!  Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if it was one day revealed these companies wanted that to happen so they could implement all of this.  Where did all the funding for Common Core and Race To The Top come from?  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 

The major players in the corporate education reform movement have been at this for a long time, well before Common Core became a headache for parents helping their kids with math homework.  We have Bill & Melinda Gates, Marc Tucker, and Matt Gandal as some of the key figureheads in everything that has come to pass since 1992.  Their policies and agendas have become embedded in nearly every single state’s educational and workforce landscape.  It is the complete restructuring and redesigning of American society.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell is actually a big piece of this puzzle, and has been for a long time.

These plans, long in scope and design, include corporate leaders, members of Congress, a couple Presidents, non-profit companies, state legislators, and every single education think tank and organization that has been paid one cent or more since 2009.  If they received money from Race To The Top, they are in on it.  And now, with personalized learning becoming the “next big thing”, we see companies like Schoology benefitting immensely from this charade we call corporate education reform.  You can read about this grand design in a blog from one of the pilot states for the personalized learning and Competency-Based Education guinea pigs.

Teachers as we know them now will be a thing of the past in just a few short years.  They will become moderators of the personalized learning and competency-based education platforms.  The teacher’s unions will disappear.  Student data will flow freely from the states to even more companies because they will now be considered “education agencies” based on initiatives like today’s announcement by JP Morgan Chase.  Our children are mere cattle for investors.  They will hedge bets on student outcomes and they will profit off these as well.  And for every single standardized test your child takes, no longer a once a year cram but a series of small high-stakes tests, your child’s uniqueness and individuality will disappear into the abyss as they become another drone of Corporate America’s Workforce.  They won’t have the ability or capability of being able to have independent thought.  They will be programmed and conditioned for their career pathway and you won’t be able to do a damn thing about it.

This is why the opposition against opt out is so huge among the education-workforce players.  Opt out kills their plans.  As former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said at a Senate meeting on opt out, “The data is important to us.”  You bet it is!  Without it, these plans are dead in the water.  Opt out now.  Seriously.  What more do you need to know to convince you?  If you are thinking “it won’t happen to my child”, think again.  It already is.  What can you do?  Stand tall and offer resistance.

beavoicenotanecho

From the Delaware DOE’s press announcement on the JP Morgan Chase “Corporate Race To The Top” initiative:

Delaware wins grant to develop plan to improve career preparation systems

The Delaware Department of Education has secured a $100,000 grant to develop a detailed career readiness action plan, which is an essential step to expanding economic opportunity for young people across the First State.

“Delaware has made tremendous progress in aligning our education and workforce development systems through Governor Jack Markell’s Delaware Pathways initiative,” Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said. “We are thrilled that these funds will further create opportunities for students to earn industry-recognized credentials and early college credits to accelerate their career goals.”

Delaware is among 24 states and the District of Columbia that secured grants for this work through phase one of New Skills for Youth grant opportunity. The grants are one piece of a $75 million, five-year initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Advance CTE, aimed at increasing economic opportunity for young people by strengthening career-focused education, starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with business needs.

Today, too few young people are receiving the education or training in high school and beyond that would put them on a track to qualify for these careers. By the age of 25, only about half of young Americans have a meaningful postsecondary credential that enables them to compete for good jobs, and the U.S. youth unemployment rate is more than double the national rate.

In Delaware, the 2014 youth (age 20-24) unemployment rate for men was 15.8 percent. For women, it was 8.8 percent. This is compared to 5.8 percent for all other age demographics. For men and women of color, the youth unemployment rate was even higher at 18 percent for African American and 11.1 percent for Hispanic youth.

Through phase one of New Skills for Youth, Delaware and other selected states will each receive a $100,000 six-month grant, in addition to expert technical assistance and peer support from other grantees, to perform a diagnostic assessment of their career preparation system and prepare for implementation of a new action plan.

Through Governor Markell’s Delaware Pathways initiative, Delaware has revamped career and technical education (CTE) to ensure youth have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials and early college credit to accelerate their career goals. And, these opportunities are expanding quickly. By the 2016-17 school year, more than 5,000 students in 29 of 44 public high schools will be enrolled in state-model pathway programs aligned to areas of high demand in Delaware’s economy. These programs include: finance, allied health, culinary and hospitality management, CISCO networking, computer science, manufacturing logistics and production, manufacturing/engineering technology, biomedical science, and engineering.

This work is further accelerated through the Delaware Pathways Strategic Plan, which was unveiled in February 2016 to more than 300 educators and employers.

“This grant is a testament to Delaware’s focus on preparing our students to leave high school college and career ready and well positioned to compete for the in-demand jobs driven by today’s global economy,” Governor Markell said.  “We’ll put it to good use to help ensure that we meet our commitment to the Delaware Promise that we announced last year, that by 2025, the percentage of Delawareans with a college degree or professional certificate will match the percentage of our jobs that will require one – 65 percent.”

States across the country are adjusting their career readiness programs to ensure they adequately prepare students for their next step after graduation, said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “States have seized this grant opportunity to pursue bold plans for pathways that will put kids on a course for success after high school and beyond.”

Chauncy Lennon, head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase, said, “We must address the youth career crisis, and it starts in our schools. These grants kick start an effort to ensure career and technical education systems are better aligned with the needs of business and leaders throughout states are committed to tackling youth employment.”

An independent advisory committee recommended phase one grant recipients after a rigorous review process that considered states’ proposed plans, cross-sector partnerships, and demonstrated commitment and capacity to transform their systems of career preparation according to the grant guidelines.  In the judgment of the advisory committee, the selected states showed promise in their career readiness plans and indicated strongly that this work is a priority for them.

Delaware, and the other phase one planning grant states, will be eligible to apply for the phase two grant opportunity, which will require states to demonstrate the commitment and capacity to execute the action plans developed in phase one.

This grant opportunity builds on CCSSO’s Career Readiness Initiative, launched in 2015 to help close the skills gap in this country. The goal is to ensure that students are not only college-ready, but that all children also graduate from high school prepared for careers.

CCSSO’s work has been guided by the recommendations made in Opportunities and Options, a report of CCSSO’s Career Readiness Task Force.

The report encourages states to make high school programs more responsive to the labor market by enlisting the employer community as a lead partner; significantly raise the threshold for quality career pathways in secondary schools; and make career preparation matter to schools and students, in part by expanding accountability systems to emphasize career readiness.

Go back and click on all the links in the Delaware DOE press release.  Find out if your state is a part of this budding enterprise.  Research, write it down, and expose.  If you don’t have an avenue to do so, reach out to me.  There are plenty of ways to get information out there.

One final thought.  If you go to this JP Morgan Chase document, go all the way to the bottom of the last page on the right.  Look at the footnotes, #12.  A report from the Center for American Progress, the creator of the bogus “Testing Bill of Rights” released last week (not to be confused with the valid Parent Bill of Rights for Education that I created last week in response, for which you can sign a petition on at Change.org).  Notice the name of the author of that report in the footnotes: Sarah Ayres.  Who JP Morgan Chase discloses is now an employee of JP Morgan Chase.  This is how it is in corporate education reform.  People jumping from one position to the next.  Working for state Departments of Education at one point.  Thousands of players, involved in any potential place where education policy is discussed.

Read through that link very carefully.  Look at what states will be required to do to receive this Corporate Race To The Top seed money.  The changes they will need to make.  And then go look at the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Read through it very carefully, absorbing every single word.  While doing so, keep this article in mind and what the new federal education law is really about.  How it was rushed out in its final wording and how many organizations blindly accepted it.  Once again, they were either fooled or they already knew about all of this.

Other recipients of JP Morgan Chase’s “Corporate Race To The Top” career-readiness agenda are Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, and Montana.  At press time, these were the only states I could find press releases on in this first phase of the New Skills For Youth plan.

 

 

Governor Markell Sends The Washington Post Editorial Hit Squad To Disrespect Delaware Parents Even More

The Washington Post, owned by the owner of Amazon, just published an editorial about the potential override of Delaware Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, our opt-out legislation passed overwhelmingly by the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate last Spring.  They are very much against the override.  The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, is a very well-known charter school supporter.  Many feel the true purpose of tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests is to label and shame traditional public schools to the point where they are put in “turnaround” status and then become charter schools.

I found the editorial staff’s column to be absolutely wrong on so many levels.

Credit to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), then, for standing up for accountability in vetoing a bill that would encourage parents to exempt their children from state tests.

The accountability where he made our Delaware Department of Education impose harsh opt-out penalties on our Delaware School Success Framework after our Secretary of Education said it would most likely not happen?  Accountability where students with high populations of minorities, low-income and poverty students, and students with disabilities don’t perform well on “the best test Delaware ever made”?  But yet Jack Markell can’t be accountable to the legislators that voted overwhelmingly in support of parental rights.  He dishonored them and parents with his cowardly veto.

In fact, parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests. But the legislation would give an imprimatur of state approval that would lead more parents to think it’s okay, even desirable, for children to duck these tests.

The legislation says absolutely nothing about that whatsoever.  It merely codifies a parental right and stops school districts and charter schools from strong-arming parents when they opt their children out.  If parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests, than why is our state not doing anything to stop school districts and charters from intimidating and bullying parents?  And yet, this editorial says absolutely nothing about the protections offered to students: they are to have alternate educational activities and they will not be punished by the school for the parent’s decision.

That, as Mr. Markell told us, would be bad policy. “Assessments are an important tool for teachers and families to have,” he said. Backing his decision are civil rights groups that fear minority and other at-risk students will slip through the cracks if there is no objective measure of performance and business groups that believe results should be measured when billions of dollars are spent on schools.

The same civil rights groups that get massive donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?  They are full of it and care more about their own bottom line than the students they claim to represent.

No doubt there is frustration with what some see as excessive testing, but the solution is not a knee-jerk boycott. Instead, there needs to be, as is being done in Delaware, a thoughtful inventory of tests to eliminate those that are redundant or otherwise unnecessary.

That thoughtful assessment inventory where the ONLY parent on the task force is one appointed by the Governor?  And stacked up with many of his education go-to legislators?  The one that will most likely get rid of assessments that actually do help students and will give rise to more Smarter Balanced interim tests?  That thoughtful process?

If they want to continue to have bragging rights in improving education, they need to preserve accountability and not give in to interest groups that oppose a clear view of how their schools are performing.

Trust me, the only ones bragging about Delaware education are the Governor and our DOE.  We know how our schools are performing, thank you very much, and it is all based on a lie called standardized tests used not for their original purpose but to test, label, and punish our schools.  They are socio-economic in nature and all they do is tell us what a child’s zip code is in many cases. 

 

African-American Opt-Out In Delaware, Part 1: The Lomax Factor

The next time you see a civil rights organization or leader trotting out the “Testing Is A Civil Right” rhetoric, check them out at the Gates Foundation website and see just how much payola they’re taking.

Over the past year, the question of opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment has been one of the biggest issues in Delaware.  Many parents have made the choice, despite the Governor, the Delaware Department of Education, and certain school districts and charters resisting the movement.  One group in Delaware has not made a lot of noise about opt-out though.  The African-American community.  I have often wondered why this is.  After all, history has shown a clear pattern on standardized assessments of African-Americans not performing as well as their peers.

For many, this is the heart of the problem.  Some, such as Governor Markell, feel that all children can perform well on these tests if given the right amount of rigor, instruction, and leadership in our schools.  Others feel as though the issues facing many of the children in the African-American community in our cities like Wilmington and Dover, such as crime and poverty, are harmful and transparent factors in preventing a student’s educational success.  The Governor will not accept the “status quo” but really doesn’t do much to change the environment many of these students live in.  I believe the Governor thinks education can overcome the obstacles these children face at home, but when you talk to the teachers in many of these schools they don’t see it.

When opt-out was reaching its height in the 2014-2015 school year, civil rights groups voiced strong objection to the opt-out movement.  They felt it would cause African-American students to become further behind.  Despite laws preventing schools and teachers from opting kids out, these groups were very public about their point of view.  Leading these voices was Michael Lomax, the President of the United Negro College Fund.  As opt-out becomes a major issue again with the potential override of Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, the Rodel Foundation and civil rights groups in Wilmington are bringing Lomax to town to speak about education for African-Americans.

Lomax

On January 14th, from 6pm-8pm, Lomax will speak to citizens of Delaware at the Christina Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) in Wilmington.  The event is sponsored by the Parents Advocacy Council for Education, a program from the CCAC, The Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League (MWUL), and the Wilmington Education Strategies Think Tank (WESTT).  But the real kicker is the next entity behind this event, which comes directly from the flyer for it: “Made possible in part by the Rodel Foundation of Delaware”.  All of these groups were very vocal with their opposition to the opt-out movement last spring, and some even took out an ad in the News Journal right before critical Senate votes on House Bill 50.

How does Michael Lomax, the President of the United Negro Fund, feel about opt-out?  He is dead set in his beliefs this is not the right path for African-American students.  Even though several civil rights groups joined in unison last year in support of the movement, others are sticking with their guns and fighting the movement.  What is causing this radical shift in thought among different groups?

Some, such as the popular blog called Perido Street School, believe there is a direct correlation between civil rights groups fighting opt-out and how much money they receive from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Gates Foundation has long been a proponent for the Common Core, standardized testing, teacher reform, and charter schools.  In fact, Lomax has written about how his grandchildren attend a charter school in Louisiana.  Last April, Lomax wrote an editorial in the New York Daily News about opt-out.

By opting out, parents do a disservice to all children, not just their own. Without an ample number of test takers, we will lose perspective on how our children are truly doing against the higher bar. This is especially important for students who need a better education the most: children of color, children from low-income families and those who require special education services or are learning English.

On its face, Lomax is absolutely right on several of his points in the article.  African-American students do have a history of not receiving equitable services compared to their Caucasian peers.  But the problem becomes what happens when those very same issues are continually brought up again and again so education consultants and vendors can profit off of the need to fix these problems.  Setting a higher bar all but ensures that there will always be proficiency gaps and attempts needed to get children to the point where they can reach this mythical end point.  The bar will always change to allow for more Wall Street intervention in our schools.

At the forefront of the civil rights groups is Michael Lomax.  He has spouted the same rhetoric about African-American students ever since he became the President of the United Negro College Fund in 2004.  In 2009, Lomax took part in a large education debate sponsored by the Philanthropy Roundtable in New York City.  Lomax made his feelings about teachers and unions very clear during his part in the debate:

The unions, superintendents, and school boards make up hundreds of hunkered-down intransigent, vigilant, resistant, inert status quo guardians guarding these gates.

He refuses to accept the possibility that the problems facing so many African-American students come from outside of the school.  He actually thinks education will bring African-American students out of poverty, as he wrote in a joint letter to the editor in the Washington Post:

Apologists for our educational failure say that we will never fix education in America until we eradicate poverty.  They have it exactly backward: We will never eradicate poverty until we fix education.  The question is whether we have the political courage to take on those who defend a status quo that serves many adults but fails many children.

For Lomax, the status quo has served him very well.  In Delaware, the figure for low-income status varies, but depending on family size, the average could be anywhere between $20-$25,000.00.  If you added the figures for 22 families at $25,000 for their annual income, Lomax would still make more.  According to that link, Lomax made $458,000 in 2014.  In 2013, with bonuses, he made $700,000.  The event in Wilmington, made possible in part by the Rodel Foundation, has their CEO making $343,000 a year.  It is very easy for these groups and “education leaders” to tell people how bad education is because it is obvious they get paid handsomely for doing so.

The United Negro College Fund received many donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the past seven years.  Over $1.5 billion dollars in donations.  As Perido Street School wrote in the top quote in this article, it would not be good for folks like Lomax to support opt-out at the risk of losing such generous sums of money.

Now it’s possible that Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund, would love testing and Common Core without the billion and a half+ in cash his organization has received from the Gates Foundation to fund scholarships.  But getting that kind of help from Gates sure does cut down on the time the organization has to spend fundraising and you can bet neither Lomax nor the United Negro College Fund want to lose that source of funding.  Now I dunno if somebody at the Gates Foundation called in a chit and “suggested” Lomax write his pro-testing screed or if Lomax just decided to be pro-active on his own and do it himself.  But you can bet it’s not an accident that a national civil rights organization that is receiving over a billion and a half dollars in cash from the Gates Foundation is pushing an education reform agenda that makes the Gates Foundation happy.

I have no doubt it is integral to Lomax’ financial wealth to continue to perpetuate the beliefs of the corporate education reformers.  He hangs out with some of the most vocal proponents of those who profit off the backs of students, teachers, and schools.  They are given the ability to raid state and local funding for their agendas and are given full support and approval by the United States Department of Education.  Folks like Joel Klein from Amplify, who was also brought in by Rodel to speak about education at $100 a seat last September.  The two of them helped to write the Washington Post editorial linked above.  In February, Lomax wrote an editorial for a website called Real Clear Education about the upcoming ESEA reauthorization.  This letter was written with Rahm Emanuel, the former Chief of Staff for President Obama and the current Mayor of Chicago, who is also a lightning rod for controversy these days.  In fact, Lomax is cited as one of the key people involved in the creation of state longitudinal data systems (SLDS) which are collecting a massive amount of data and personal information on students according to this article in the  Huffington Post.  These SLDS initiatives, with federal funding and massive amounts of money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation circumvent around appropriate laws to protect student data by allowing education vendors and outside companies to see much of this data.

Does Wilmington really need another supposed trumpeter of civil rights coming to town to tell us how bad African-American students are doing in our schools and how much our teachers need to change?  If you are the Rodel Foundation and Governor Markell, the timing could not be more advantageous.  Rodel and Markell are fierce opponents of parental rights when it comes to the opt-out movement.  They do not believe parents have any rights when it comes to testing.  They would rather see parents lose sleep over making the opt-out choice and have them fight with difficult charter schools and districts than allow a law to pass that would give them protection when making a fundamental and Constitutional supported decision.  When the arguments heat up over opt-out, Rodel decides to bring a very big weapon to town.  I do not believe it is mere coincidence Lomax will be speaking on the very same day the Delaware PTA is having an opt-out rally outside Legislative Hall and State Rep. John Kowalko may bring up the override question to the Delaware House of Representatives.  This is how Rodel operates, in my opinion.  This event was just announced yesterday, the day after a very controversial article about opt-out in the News Journal.

I will be exploring the issue of opt-out, especially for African-American students in Delaware, at greater length.  But for the people going to see Mr. Lomax speak next week, I would urge all to question a few things: “Why now?”, “How much is he getting paid to speak”, “Would he feel the same way if he was making the same amount of money as the students’ families he claims to want to lift up out of poverty?”, and “Would he be willing to go to the roughest neighborhoods in Wilmington after his speech tonight and hang out with the folks on the street for a few hours?”

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Guest Post by Anani Maas

A Concerned Delaware Teacher Speaks Out

Emily Talmadge in her blog Save Maine Schools challenged readers to research how Bill Gates has gone undercover in our own states after she discovered how Gates has used his vast resources to drive the corporate education reform agenda in hers.

So, I decided to take her up on her challenge.

Let’s begin with the federal Race to the Top incentive grant, a carrot dangled at states to “force cash-strapped states to make radical changes in education in order to stay in the running—changes a National Research Council report (10/7/09) warned were not backed by research. Instead of dispersing grant money on the basis of greatest need, RTTT chooses a few winners based on the degree to which the states deliver what the feds want: more charter schools, so-called merit pay for teachers and new curriculum standards known as the Common Core” (Ohanian, 2010).  As we know, Delaware was one of the very first states to receive the grant in 2010 to the tune of $19 million because they quickly jumped on the “opportunity” the RTTT grant promised.  Read the rest of Ohanian’s article to see how Bill Gates’ money was connected to Race to the Top.

It is well documented that Bill Gates bankrolled the Common Core State Standards revolution in Lindsey Layton’s well-researched article for the Washington Post in June, 2014. For a refresher, you can read it here.

This leads to the Smarter Balanced State Assessment that is in place to test student’s acquisition of the Common Core State Standards. And if your school doesn’t have the technology available to administer the tests, Microsoft is ready to help you out!  (Even though Bill Gates himself is quick to point out how his efforts are solely philanthropy and in the best interest of ALL children! Bill Gates says so here.)

In addition to Common Core State Standards, Gates has bankrolled the Next Generation Science Standards as well. The authors of NGSS are Achieve, Inc. and, of course, Achieve, Inc. has received generous awards from the Gates Foundation. (see here)  Now that Delaware has secured the Smarter Balanced Test, it is time for them to move on to initiate a similar test aligned to the CCSS and the NextGen Standards.

But Bill and Melinda Gates’ money doesn’t stop there. How has their money directly found its way to Delaware in the effort to drive his corporate education agenda?

“Another key requirement [of the RTTT grant] is “using data to improve instruction.” This means basing classroom lessons on data collected from highly criticized standardized tests” (Ohanian, 2010).

Delaware DOE contracted with New America Foundation to implement the Delaware Data Coach Program.  “One of only two winners from the original, stimulus funded Race to the Top competition, the Delaware Department of Education dedicated $8.2 million over two years of its $19 million grant to the Data Coach Program” (McCann and Kabaker, 2013).  New America Foundation has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation every year since at least 2009.

Copied from the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation Grants Awarded page.

New America Foundation 2015 Postsecondary Success US Program $2,400,000
New America Foundation 2014 College-Ready US Program $370,000
New America Foundation 2014 Postsecondary Success US Program $235,000
New America Foundation 2013 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $740,000
New America Foundation 2013 College-Ready US Program $200,002
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $1,450,000
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $110,000
New America Foundation 2011 Postsecondary Success US Program $530,000
New America Foundation 2010 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,300,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $450,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,500,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $250,000

Curiosity seized me, so on the same Gate’s Foundation database for grants awarded, I decided simply to put “Delaware” in the search engine and these names popped up:

Delaware State University

Rodel Charitable Foundation

Association of Educational Publishers

Delaware Department of Education

I haven’t quite figured out why Gates gave $400,000 to the Delaware DDOE in 2013 and $322,525 in 2009.

I did see that the Gates Foundation gave a grant to the Delaware PTA in 2012 “to provide parent and community training on CCSS throughout Delaware.” Although, on page 18 of the same report, the DSEA reports that “DDOE has failed to fill this gap and has not provided resources for DPTA to continue its CCSS work” (Johnson, 2015).  So what happened to the money?

Gate’s money has paid for yet another set of standards. The Delaware Academy for School Leadership is one of the new organizations that has been developed to train new school leaders throughout the nation in the new The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards.  These new standards have been developed through the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with the National Policy Board on Educational Administration (NPBEA) to help strengthen preparation programs in school leadership. Again, searching the Gate’s Foundation database, I found that the Gates Foundation has awarded 21 grants to The Council of Chief State School Officers ranging from $25,000 to $6,148,749 between 2009 and 2015.  Therefore, Bill Gates gets to determine what knowledge, attitudes, dispositions, and performance are essential for new school leaders who lead our district schools.

This is only the digging I was able to accomplish in one afternoon! I am so thoroughly enraged at the way Bill Gates and his buddy billionaires have been able to single-handedly determine the direction of every level of our educational system to promote his agenda.  He is systematically buying into every level of education to propagate his message: lobbying parents through their trusted PTA’s, brainwashing novice teacher and administrators by controlling their teacher and administrator training programs, contributing to politicians on both sides of the aisle,  and stimulating new non-profits, charter schools and department of education cronies who will promote his propaganda.

While Bill Gates conspires to cash in by directing the education of every student in the United States from pre-K through graduate school, Delaware is simply selling out our students to the highest bidder.